Instant Pot Saucy Spaghetti

  • 1 pkg spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 bag frozen meatballs
  • 1 jar of store sauce
  • 1 can stewed or diced tomatoes (your preference)
  • 1 cup frozen mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp garlic (fresh if you have it)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp onion powder

Layer your ingredients in the instant pot starting with the frozen meatballs at the bottom. The meatballs are fine going in frozen, no need to thaw. Break your spaghetti in half over the meatballs. Cover spaghetti, meatballs with store sauce, tomato paste, stewed or diced tomatoes, spices, and garlic. Using your spaghetti sauce jar as measurement gently pour in 1.5 jars of water. Make sure the spaghetti noodles are 100% submerged. Do not stir after layering! This will cause your noodles to clump while cooking.

Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes then do a quick release. Dump in your frozen mushrooms and stir well, allowing the sauce to thicken and the mushrooms to cook for a minute or two. If you feel your sauce is too watery put the pot into saute mode and allow to reduce for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Plate noodles and top with sauce and meatballs. Serve with parmesan for topping, salt to taste. Bon appetit!

Instant Pot Jook aka Congee

Simple chicken congee recipe you can “dump and cook” in less than an hour. Feel free to alter to your tastes, this is a basic recipe that will net you a flavorful base soup.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Chicken legs
  • 3/4 Cup jasmine rice
  • 2 Tsp garlic
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 7 Cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • Green onion to garnish

Wash the rice until water runs clear. Arrange chicken legs at the bottom of the pot. Layer grated ginger and garlic on top of legs. Place rinsed and drained rice on top of all. Pour water gently into pot. Do not add salt at this point.

Cook on manual high for 30 minutes and NPR. With a pair of tongs remove chicken legs from the pot. Set IP to saute and thicken soup to desired consistency stirring constantly. Once you’ve got the consistency where you want it remove skin and bones from legs and return to pot. Add salt to taste and garnish bowls when served with green onion.

I enjoy adding a bit of high-quality soy and Siracha, or hot chilli oil to my bowl.

Substitutes:

  • If you’re making in a pinch or don’t have access to fresh ginger you CAN use the same amount of ground ginger.
  • You can use brown rice but adjust your cook time (it takes about 30% longer)

Focusing on ONE platform from now on

I’ve made the same mistake of separating my gaming life from my life in general online countless times. There’s no good reason for this and I always end up realizing what a mistake it is due to how core gaming is to who I am as a person. I mention this because I stopped updating here to write gaming oriented thoughts somewhere else. The problem with this is that there is always the struggle need to represent myself fully somewhere and stop trying to separate these parts of myself. 

I went ahead and brought over the blog posts I made on the gaming blog. I’ll be consolidating all of my writing here from now on.

So, a quick catch up on what’s happened over the last couple of years in my personal life. Remember that leap I talked about taking in previous blogs? Yeah, well it did end disastrously. A week after I left my stable FT job to work with the Kendo team as a contractor I got a call that they were putting the project on hold. I had just bought a brand new car for the first time in ages… I was desperate to find something as quick as I could. I was on the job hunt for a couple of months and after receiving no better offers went to work in a call center helping people understand their medical benefits. 

It sucked. 

I went through phases of trying to accept where my life was at, in this call center but every time I tried to reconcile to that being my life I just couldn’t do it. So finally, after a couple of months of feeling sorry for myself, I started to apply for jobs again while I spent my days in misery at the call center. 

It paid off – a few weeks later I was a finalist for an awesome position I really wanted and best of all it was in Denver so I wouldn’t have to move! 

More on that soon… ! 

RIP spotmeplzzz and True

The shooting Sunday at a sanctioned Madden Championship Series competition in Jacksonville, FL should not be used as an opportunity for media to label gaming as “violent”. Let’s not let gaming stereotypes cloud the narrative. The shooting Sunday at a local gaming venue is an indication of young America’s identity issue. Instead of referencing how violent video games CAN be, the narrative should be:

What has gone wrong in our society that young men feel that taking out as many lives before taking their own is the appropriate response to their feelings?

For most, gaming, including competitively, is a ‘safe’ place. On the outside gaming can seem a solitary use of time but inside the game, you’re surrounded by people. And, when you’re very good at your game, you’re exalted. Placed on a pedestal. Losing that place on the pedestal can be tough, on the ego and within the game community.

Some gamers have communities who don’t allow them to forget their mistakes. Summit1G’s hilarious Molotov fail, or Reckful missing lethal at Blizzcon are both examples of this.

So yeah, losing your place on the pedestal sucks but it’s no fucking reason to subject a roomful of people the terror and chaos of a mass shooting. Those are moments that have been taken from them that they will never be able to reclaim or find peace with. 

May the two young men fatally shot yesterday be remembered. I hope their families find peace. 

Battle For Azeroth Initial Impressions

Hey! I’m Tea, I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since WotLK released in 2008. My Warcraft journey started when I played through the original Warcraft series and found myself not wanting to leave the world behind. When I googled “Warcraft” a game called the WORLD of Warcraft appeared and thought ‘hey! I’ll continue my journey there!’. 11 years later here I am! I raid Mythic in a guild on Stormrage Alliance. While I can’t guarantee I will raid Mythic in this expansion end game PvE content has always been where my heart is at ever since I discovered “raiding”. Now that you know a little about me, let’s talk about Battle for Azeroth first impressions.

Itstea harnessing the heart of Azeroth

BFA hype came late for me. I was at Blizzcon when the expansion was announced. My first feelings were underwhelmed and hesitant. I’m over faction wars, I don’t enjoy PvP activities (with the exception of BG’s for some reason) so BFA reveal didn’t hit the right note for me. Then about 6 weeks before the expansion released I interest slowly started to mount about what the expansion might offer.

Now that I’ve had a week to play (the times Stormrage was up) it’s clear to me (and anyone who has ventured into BFA’s Azeroth) that the art and cinematic team did outstanding work to modernize game visuals and bring the game aesthetically into 2018.

My personal opinion, as a long time endgame player, it feels to me the combat system is showing it’s age and lack of agility. I won’t armchair dev or pretend to know more than a surface level context of game design so please don’t @ me. Other notably shitty things are the dev decision to switch the loot system to personal AND locking BFA pieces from being traded is discouraging [UPDATE – Blizz has decided to reverse this decision 08/23/18].

Pivoting back to where Battle for Azeroth shines – the genuine love for the world and its inhabitants, including us player characters, the design team has is on full frontal display. World zones feel completely alive in a way I haven’t experienced since the first time I quested through Grizzly Hills and stumbled upon a titan scale staircase and felt a sense of wonder at the ruins of something like this left behind. Every new zone in Battle For Azeroth oozes atmosphere and personality.

Alliance or Horde, every zone starts with a voice acted introduction quest line. This is a charming touch that draws you into caring about the zone story. I found myself immersed to the point that I stopped the show I was watching on the second monitor and just enjoyed the quests and ambiance of Drustvar. I had the same experience beginning every other zone as well. I felt a bit spoiled when the voice acted intro quests ended!

I’ve only played through the Alliance side of the expansion at this point but everything I’ve seen on social leads me to assume Horde has a similar cinematic experience. The in-game cutscenes are among the finest Warcraft has produced. I find myself joining the side of YouTube commenters who are clamoring for a CGI Warcraft movie. I mean, if the cinematics are THIS good I can’t see a CGI cinematic effort from Blizzard failing.

There are countless nods to pop culture embedded in quests and NPC’s. The balance felt tipped a little too heavy on references. Drustvar had a supreme Witcher vibe that I thoroughly enjoyed. Leveling with Warmode on wasn’t an issue at all which I was pleasantly surprised by. I think that might change in a few months when people are leveling alts, etc.

When I got to 120 I was THRILLED! I stood in Boralus for a hot minute just enjoying the leveling slog was over and bantering in guild chat. When I was ready to move on I was overwhelmed. Want to unlock further war missions? World Quests? Unlocking two mythic only dungeons Seige of Boralus and Kings Rest? Reputation gates exist for most of the content a PvE’er needs to complete weekly to raid prep. You quickly realize that character levels are meaningless in BFA. The real leveling is in your Heart of Azeroth, which you rank up with Azerite obtained through activities.

I have a FT job and play in the evenings after work. That’s when I don’t have other demands from work, spouse, or my social life. Going into this expansion I thought the changes to our primary power component (Heart of Azeroth in BFA from Artifact Weapons in Legion) would give me a different initial experience than I had when Legion first launched. Remember when the people in your raid who were able to play all day had 3-4 more AP levels than you? When people who were maxxed did SO MUCH more damage or healing because the weapon was just so much more powerful from those levels?

Well, turns out HoA isn’t much different. It might be a little worse, due to traits unlocking based on your HoA level. That leaves anyone serious about end game content grinding to unlock as high as possible before raid released on September 4th.

I’m not 100% confident I will be seeking a raid spot in the upcoming tier. I’ve enjoyed having more time to myself and playing other games with my friends. So much of my identity is wrapped up in being a Mythic raider and completing tiers that I don’t know how I will actually turn casual but I think it might be time. I don’t have the stomach for the natural tension and conflict that arises when 20 competitive people are in the same room anymore. I am considering starting a ‘alt’ run (read casual) heroic group that runs 1 day a week. If you’re interested let me know (vanity#1426)!

~Tea

PC Master Race (my Toastmasters Icebreaker)

I’ve always been distinctly me. Being YOU isn’t always easy, in fact being you can be more difficult than just doing your best to blend in. My hobbies have ranged from car racing, which sidenote is how I met my husband of 14 years, to collecting Asian ball jointed dolls. As you can imagine having such niche interests can make carrying on a Monday morning conversation difficult.

“Hey did you have a good weekend? Do anything fun?”

“Yeah! I visited Eorzea and became embroiled in the center of a plot to kill the sultana Nanamo Ul Namo, seventeenth in the line of Ul.”

So in encouraging you all to embrace your YOU, I’ll share some of what makes me ME as well as hopefully letting those of you who might also be weird like me know that there are people out there who appreciate, and maybe even love what makes you weird. However, they usually have a sense of humor of their own, see below:

Anyone here really like playing video games? Did seeing Bethesda tease Elder Scrolls VI at E3 fill you with childlike hope and joy? No? Does the popularity of Fortnite make you cringe? Yes?

I get it not many in this room spend their evenings playing video games, but trust me, there ARE plenty of us out there who still LOVE playing video games as an adult. This can be hard for “normies” to understand, especially if they don’t know the rush of playing competitively.

Maybe your perception of video gamers is people who spend most of their day in the basement in front of a screen semi-isolated from the world through a headset.

Let me invite you to dive into that world with me. Through my eyes see the vibrant landscape in front of me, through my ears hear the bosses scream for you and your teams’ demise.

Melee get back in, tank taunt the add, in your spots for flame rend, ranged out to the marker to soak blazing eruption. I scramble to comply with the directive for ranged, thankfully I have my portal up and off CD and can teleport quickly closer to the position. Triumphantly (and with a great feeling of relief) I make it to the ranged marker in time to soak.

The boss is entering the burn phase, that’s what we refer to the last 15% of a bosses health. Right now, we’re the closest we’ve ever gotten to killing this boss and you can hear the group queue up their mics with KILL IT BOYS, LET’sGOOO, USE PERSONALS, ALL HEALING CD’s AS SOON AS THEY’RE UP, followed by incoherent shouts of near primal joy as the boss falls over and achievements light up my screen.

When my guild killed the final boss of the raid we finished 11/11M US #293 for Tier 21.

You’re wondering: What the hell is she talking about?

I’ll do my best to explain. Hi, my name is Janice and I am a level 110 Human Warlock – ItsTea. In two weeks Battle For Azeroth releases and I’ll begin my journey to 120 and Tier 22. By now, if it isn’t clear let me make it clear I’m referring to my character in World of Warcraft, a game I’ve played and loved dearly for the past 10 years. In World of Warcraft, my Human Warlock has collected some of the rarest titles and defeated the hardest content the developers of the game can create. You see, I’m a mythic raider. ItsTea belongs to a guild called <The Squirrel Mafia> our raid consists of 20 people prepared to defend the realm of Azeroth against its foes two days a week.

And yes, I’m a major nerd. 🙂

A corner of my life has been reserved for playing games for as long as I can remember. My older sister had an Atari 2600. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the cabinet television playing games like Pitfall, Popeye, and Jungle Hunt. One day my dad took us to Target and we bought a Nintendo gaming system. I was on cloud nine, I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to have a Nintendo. Today I mostly game on a PC (PC master race) but I also own both consoles (XBOX & PS4).

Every year I make an annual migration to Anaheim, CA for Blizzcon which I call my happy place. It’s the one weekend I am surrounded by people I know I won’t have any awkward conversations about my weekend with. 🙂

Thanks, everyone for letting me share my icebreaker, I look forward to hearing about how you enjoy spending your time.

Update on absence

Totally should have known I wouldn’t be able to stick with anything that required a schedule! lol

I wanted to participate in the blogathon in order to jump-start creativity and not feel so much pressure to write. The pressure is self-imposed, I love reading and I have ideas I think would be great premises for short stories, or maybe even a book. Getting it out of my head on onto paper is the part I struggle with. So I thought maybe a blogathon where it’s just a short burst every day would be a good habit maker.

So maybe we won’t try and write on a daily basis but I do want to spend time creating in some manner and plan on continuing to post here when I get the itch. We’re building a house in the Denver area so I think it would be cool to document that along with my personal thoughts on gaming and streaming culture.

I’ve been playing a ton of FFXIV while we wait for Battle for Azeroth to launch. That’s my gorgeous little BLM, Itme Tea. As far as BfA goes the faction wars have escalated in my YouTube video comments since I’m proudly Alliance.

I got an instant pot during Prime day so I also think this would be a good place to document the recipes I’ve tried or created for that. 🤓

Thanks for stopping by!